Pressure, private cash driving clean
Feb 6, 2008 - The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- High oil prices and
growing concerns about the environment may drive more
than $7 trillion of new investment in so-called clean
energy technologies by 2030, an energy research group
Public pressure and private investment
dollars are combining to bring clean energy technologies
-- defined as energy sources that are low in carbon
emissions -- from the fringes of the energy industry
to its center, said Cambridge Energy Research Associates,
or CERA, in a new report.
"We are seeing a major shift in public
opinion," said Daniel Yergin, CERA's chairman. "This
is providing a vital impetus that is moving clean
technology across the great divide of cost, proven
results, scale and maturity that has separated it
from markets served by mainstream technologies."
Among renewable sources, wind power
is poised to make the greatest gains, followed by
solar power and biofuels, CERA said. But nuclear and
hydroelectric generation will attract almost half
of the $7 trillion, CERA said.
In the United States, renewable energy
sources currently account for about 6.5 percent of
total energy consumed, according to the Energy Department.
Nuclear power makes up only an additional 8 percent
of overall consumption, which is dominated by fossil
fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas.
But worldwide, there is a "bubbling"
of clean energy clusters, CERA said, including Brazil,
where biofuel technologies are growing; Germany, where
a solar energy process called photovoltaic technology
is growing; and Spain, which has become a center of
wind energy development.
The biggest driver behind clean energy
may be increased oil and natural gas prices, which
are making expensive clean technologies economically
viable. But government policies that subsidize clean
energy, put a price on carbon emissions or mandate
reductions in pollutants or the use of renewable energy
are also key drivers, CERA said.
The research firm identified a number
of new clean energy technologies that show promise.
They include geothermal plants, which would generate
energy by tapping heat from deep in the earth, ocean
generation plants, which would use wave or tidal power
to generate electricity, and concentrating solar power,
where the sun's rays are focused to create steam-powered